What is it about public speaking that you’d be most likely to search for on the internet? You might be surprised which of my posts gets the most search traffic…
The most popular post on this blog – by far – is the one on awesome opening lines. And almost 60 people have commented on it, too. So it’s definitely a hot topic for public speakers.
But if you go looking for an opening line for your talk, I think you’re taking the wrong approach.
Why do I say that? Well, the combination of your audience and your topic are unique. So, if you search the internet for an opening line, you’re very unlikely to find a good fit for your specific talk.
What should you do, then? You’ll find one great answer in this 3-minute video by Kindra Hall.
If you’re invited to speak on a panel, you’ll want to make the most of your preparation (and your time on stage). So to help you prepare, and then take part effectively, here’s a handy 2-minute video.
In it, you’ll find 3 tips from Ben Decker, CEO of Decker Communications. And below the video, you’ll find many ideas and links to expand on Ben’s tips:
Ben starts with a neat point about the context of panel discussions:
“It can be such a great honour
to be invited to be a part of a panel.
People want to hear
– your opinions…”
So, especially if you’re nervous, keep in mind that people value your insights.
Ben then shares his action-based tips for speaking on a panel:
How do you decide whether to tell a deeply personal story in public, such as at work?
In this 4-minute video, Kindra Hall gives you 3 ways to help you choose whether (and how) to share a tricky story like that:
Recently, I came across Kindra’s work online, and I love it! She shares some great advice, and the topic she’s passionate about is storytelling.
In this video, her 3 main points are:
Of the countless presentations you’ve likely heard, how many have really made you listen? Often, they can sound and look a lot like all the rest. That’s why, if you’re like me, they tend to leave you cold.
So when you present, you risk seeming just like all the other presenters. In which case, people can start to tune out – fast! That is, unless you start strong.
What’s the best way to start strong? Involve people emotionally! To do that, mention their hopes or fears surrounding your topic – while still being professional of course. That engages your audience because they’re drawn in at a gut level. And, it’s so different from the norm!
“We need audiences to feel first, and then to think.”
Helio Fred Garcia in Fast Company
Mention their hopes or fears…
I recommend 3 neat ways you can start strong when you present. Choose any 1 of them to open your talk:
In part 1 – Use the PACE approach – I showed how you can start to engage an audience before you even speak. To do that, you can make your talk’s title meet these 4 criteria, so it’s:
- P Personal
- A Actionable
- C Conversational
- E Emotional
In this post, you’ll see how to make your whole talk personal – to keep people engaged.
By that I mean using your content to connect with each person in your audience. As people are generally most interested in themselves, one of the best ways you can connect with your audience is to show clearly that you’re focused on them. After you do that, another great way to connect with and therefore engage people is to use genuine emotion.
So, how can you do those things to make your whole talk personal? Well for a start, try these 4 tips, which are arranged roughly from most to least audience-centred:
Looking for free training
in public speaking?
Look no further!
In a previous post, I wrote about Ben Harvey’s free workshops on public speaking. Those are great if you’re in Sydney (like me), but of course the chances are very good that you’re not.
In this post then, you’ll find 5 free courses to help you with your presentations and speeches – no matter where you happen to live.
So here they are (in no particular order)…
Imagine sketching your talk as a simple shape on a piece of paper.
What would you draw?
If yours is like most talks, you can think of it as an arrow, pointing between your introduction and your conclusion:
That’s what blogger John Zimmer wrote in this great post.
Certainly, the arrow metaphor fits well with the description you sometimes hear of speeches as “taking your audience from point A to point B”. (Presentation experts like Jerry Weissman often use that phrase.)
Is there a better shape?
But John Zimmer goes on to suggest a better shape for your talk…
The best 2 hours I’ve ever spent…
Are you serious about wanting to improve your public speaking? If so, do yourself a favour and listen to what Benjamin J Harvey has to say about it. I did that last Wednesday night, and it was probably the best 2 hours I’ve ever spent on improving my presentation skills!
What a great move that was!
Ben’s a Sydney-based entrepreneur who offers occasional free public-speaking workshops. (Wherever you live, you might also like these 5 free public-speaking courses.) As I’m in Sydney too, and his workshop happens just every few months, I took the chance to go along. What a great move that was!
Why so great? There are 3 factors: Continue reading
If you’ve read my recent post called
Do you make this #1 mistake when you present online?, you’ll know it asserts that the top mistake of online presenters (such as in webinars) is time-wasting, and it names 3 of the biggest symptoms:
- Spending too long on introductions
- Staying on the same slide too long
- Fixating on interaction instead of value
In that earlier post, you’ll find those 3 problems laid out, but you won’t find any solutions. So that’s where this post comes in.
Below, you’ll find ways to solve each of those 3 problems: Continue reading
For neat ideas for your next talk’s opening line, here’s a great free resource. It’s a 2-page PDF packed with almost 30 opening lines by Patricia Fripp, CSP – former president of the National Speakers’ Association in the US.